Amanda is the second guest writer to contribute to our new series on perspectives. I asked her, "if you could back, with the perspective you have now, what would you say to yourself?" This is what she said...
If I could go back and talk to 5-, 10-, 15-year old Amanda, what would I say? That question is harder than I expected. There are plenty of things I'd like to tell myself, but most of it comes from the cane-waving side of me. Obey your mother! That skirt is too short! Travel now because it will be much harder in a few years. Oh, and speaking of "in a few years", you think you're tired now? Boy oh boy, do you have a rude awakening coming...
There are other things, too. I would tell myself to relax because there will be a day when you won't even remember AP exams. Don't put too much stock in certain friendships, most of those boys weren't worth my time, and mostly that you are enough; beautiful and made in God's image. You are so deeply loved that Jesus died for you. So do not worry about being found out as imperfect: you are made perfect through the blood of Jesus.
I might want to tell myself those things, but all those hard times got me where I am today. Instead, I think I would just tell her that it will be ok. It will be hard, your jeans will be tight, then they will be loose. Your plans will change and you will cry yourself to sleep, and you will land your dream job on the first try. You will lose loved ones, you will have your heartbroken once, twice, three times. But it will all be ok because God will be with you.
I think a more beneficial meeting would be between me and my future self. I have a toddler and a newborn, meaning my days and my nights are long, hard and exhausting. But I'm also living my dream come true -- I have a wonderful husband and two healthy babies who I get to stay home with -- but the day-to-day is a grind. When I'm up at night feeding my baby girl, I try to pray for my friends are waiting for babies -- trying to adopt or get pregnant or counting down the days to their due date. Praying helps me maintain perspective, but lately I've been too tired to pray; my eyes water because they sting with exhaustion.
I think too much about the future. It will be easier when my baby girl is sleeping through the night, won't it? Or when I finally lose this post-pregnancy weight. Or when I don't have two babies in diapers. Yes, it will be easier then. So I make an idol of the passing of days; wishing away these beautiful, precious years.
I typically do my grocery shopping on Tuesdays, which is Senior Citizen Day at Kroger. Going shopping on Senior Citizen Day with babies is like bringing Justin Bieber to your high school prom; you get a lot of attention.
One day, about a year ago, a woman with a strong accent came up to me and David. "Ah, King David!" she said. "You be a good boy for your mommy."
She told me that she had married very young. She was just 16, her husband was 21. She had her first child at 17. I was shocked, and then she explained, "Well, dear, it was 1941, I needed someone to take care of me. I was in a concentration camp. Do you know what that is?"
I swallowed hard.
Yes, I told her, yes, I know what a concentration camp is. I'd never met a person who survived the Holocaust. Did I even hear her right? Was she kidding? But people don't kid about living in concentration camps. What do you say to a person who not only lived in, but had a baby in a concentration camp? I'm sorry? That didn't seem appropriate. Nothing seemed appropriate, so I didn't say anything.
She spoke to her husband in Polish, and then turned back to me, "Enjoy these years, dear, they are the best years of your life."
I don't know the details of this woman's life, but I do know that she didn't have a nurse line to call at 2 a.m. when her baby woke up with a fever. I know she didn't have the luxury of turning on Elmo when she needed a moment, and she probably didn't get involved in snarky conversations about when her infant first slept through the night.
She, probably without even realizing it, called the years she was in a concentration camp and post-WWII Europe the best years of her life. And it was because those were the years she was with her child.
I wish I could talk to my future, well-rested self, who no longer worries about nap schedules or teething, and hopefully be reminded that these years are beautiful so don't wish them away. Instead, soak them in, wring every bit of joy and toddler-happiness and newborn-smiles out of them.
If I had to go back and tell myself something, it would be the same thing I'd tell myself today. Slow down. Rest in Jesus. Trust that the place you're in right now, no matter how hard or tiring or wonderful it is, it's teaching you to rely on Jesus, and to put your trust and hope in Him.
Meet Amanda: Amanda writes about running, knitting, and life with two kids at Living On Grace. She and her husband are raising their family in the heart of Richmond, VA and sharing their lives with us through their blog. Be sure to head over there to read more!